Transportation Minister Todd Stone at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

Stone rejects fare rollback at BC Ferries


Ferry system savings, not higher taxes, must power fare restraint, says transportation minister

Transportation Minister Todd Stone quickly ruled out a demand Wednesday from municipal politicians to unwind recent BC Ferries fare hikes and service cuts.

Speaking outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, after delegates unanimously endorsed the resolution, Stone said affordability is the number one issue and fares cannot continue to rise at four per cent or more a year.

But he said he won’t overrule the independent ferry commissioner and force a reduction in fares.

“That’s not going to happen,” Stone said, adding he also firmly rejected a call from coastal communities to raise taxes to increase ferry subsidies.

Instead, he said, fare restraint must come from innovation and efficiencies that will deliver savings that can be reinvested in the ferry system.

Stone wants local support for potentially controversial service changes to cut costs – including a bridge to Gabriola Island and a cable ferry planned to Denman Island that would save $2 million a year.

“Leaders in coastal communities are going to have to work with us and embrace a number of other ideas, which could include alternative technologies, fixed links, alternative fuels, passenger-only ferries in complement to vehicle ferries – a wide range of ideas we’ve thrown out there.”

The province has also announced plans to retrofit two Spirit-class ferries to run on liquefied natural gas and save an estimated $9 million a year on fuel.

Stone met coastal community representatives Wednesday afternoon on the ferry issues and promised a follow-up meeting in November to discuss avenues for savings – both the ones already announced and others he said are “coming in the months ahead.”

Local politicians intend to keep pressing the province to study the economic impact of rapidly rising ferry fares, after releasing a UBCM-commisioned study pointing to significant losses to the province.

Stone previously criticized the UBCM study as “irresponsible” and “unsubstantiated.”

Just Posted

Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin receives first poppy in Legion-led ceremony

The ceremony is one of the first steps to kick off the 2019 poppy campaign

Victoria requests cruise ship visit cap while seeking limit on ship emissions

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Island Health warns of whooping cough at Esquimalt’s Macaulay Elementary

Island Health is urging parents to watch out for signs, and to keep immunizations updated

Council tags two more Oak Bay homes for bylaw infringement

Monterey homeowner covers front yard in gravel and stone

WATCH: Women who make a difference gather for annual Black Press gala

Black Press Media’s Women in Business Gala connects local leaders

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Most Read